Tag Archives: gluten-related disorders

Gluten-Free Astrology: Capricorn (born December 22 – January 19) AND Aquarius (born January 20 – February 18)

Since I missed posting my usual personality analysis, predictions, and advice for gluten-free eaters born under the sign of Capricorn back in December, I’m mixing it up this time with a special double edition of Gluten-Free Astrology.

I’ll cover all the need-to-know facts about Capricorn and Aquarius, then we’ll play a little game with celebrities. Got a goat or a water-bearer in your life, or are you one yourself? Then read on!

The GF Capricorn

Capricorn’s symbol is the goat, and there’s a good reason for that. GF Capricorns are surefooted, able to pick their way over obstacles to reach whatever peak they’ve set their sights on. Like Virgos, Capricorns are organized creatures who set goals, make plans, and proceed steadily toward them.

goat silhouette standing on mountain

Calmly looking back at the path you’ve trod.
Photo © BR0WSER | Flickr

But Capricorns’ ambitions are often higher than Virgos’, and always less negotiable. While a GF Virgo might set up a safe, tidy, 95% gluten-free kitchen and allow his/her family to keep eating Triscuits, the GF Capricorn—uncomfortable with ambiguity—won’t rest until every last crumb has left the building.

You’re diligentpractical, and as stubborn as a Taurus, which combine with your rigid sense of organization and clarity of thought to make you, as I’ve said before, basically the best sign ever at being gluten-free.

Self-sufficient, you may volunteer to handle the food at professional and social events, but after painstaking preparations you have trouble letting go and enjoying the secure gluten-free party you’ve planned. Others may see you as distant or even controlling, especially when you’re slapping their hands away from your tortilla chips. Naturally a loner type, Capricorns risk becoming even more isolated once diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder—too bad, because inside, you honestly long to be loved. Spend this month working toward your goals, for sure, but don’t be afraid to make companionship a priority, too.

Black and white goat behind fence

Don’t get trapped by your gluten-free diet and health goals.
Photo © Rachel Groves | Flickr

The GF Aquarius

Like our friends, the GF Capricorns, you can be obstinate when you’re sure you’re right (and, since Aquarius is the Ravenclaw of the astrology world, you’re right annoyingly often). Also like Capricorns, Aquarius can come off as distant—in your case, because you really do prize independence over all else. For the most part, the similarity ends there.

Uranus

Your ruling planet, Uranus, represents the unconventional and unexpected—and it’s really pretty too, right?
Photo © wstera2 | Flickr

Where Capricorn is steady, Aquarius is zany, constantly changing directions and cooking up wild schemes. You’ve probably had so many gluten-free business ideas, you’ve lost count. Maybe you’ve even tried to make some a reality: tossing ideas around and getting to know potential clients is lots of fun. Tying yourself down longterm? Not so much.

The GF Aquarius is outgoing, a traveler, and willing to experience just about anything other than boredom. You love learning and sharing ideas and information: your sign, the water bearer, represents that passion. If anyone can manage to enjoy going gluten-free, it’s you: learning all that new lingo and science, mastering the baking learning curve, and enlightening everyone you know about what exactly is a “villus”? A fascinating challenge!

You trade tips with every gluten-free person you meet, put your rapier wit to work when someone criticizes our lifestyle, and try all the new restaurants. (You might get glutened more often than average, but for you, that’s part of the journey. Yeah, you’re a little odd.)  There’s a decent chance you’re a gluten-free blogger—and, if so, you’re very good at it, besides a slight tendency to overestimate your own expertise.

A little more trivia

When it comes to health, GF Capricorns suffer from stiff joints, rheumatism, and orthopedic problems. GF Aquarius struggles with arterial troubles, as well as shin and ankle sprains and breaks. I probably don’t need to tell you these are all symptoms of gluten-related disorders.

Now, time for a pop (culture) quiz. Here are a few well-known faces, some Capricorn, some Aquarius, some gluten-free, some not. Take a stab at guessing who’s who, then scroll down for the answers.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll

James Joyce

James Joyce

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Drew Brees

Drew Brees

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres

How’d you do?

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: Capricorn (Jan. 15), not GF (he preferred southern food such as fried chicken and pecan pie—decidedly glutenous, but I’m sure you could find GF versions to make in his honor today)
  • Lewis Carroll (originally “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson”): Aquarius (Jan. 27), not GF (according to one biographer, he subsisted primarily on fruit, dry biscuits, and—in his younger, “greedier” days—cakes)
  • James Joyce: Aquarius (Feb. 2), not GF (suffered from mysterious stomach pains, often attributed retrospectively to syphilis, but who’s to say it wasn’t really that other “great imitator,” celiac disease?)
  • Oprah: Aquarius (Jan. 29), briefly GF (in 2008 she tried a 21-day “cleanse”; despite enjoying gluten-free waffles throughout, by the end she was “sure . . . happy to return to gluten”)
  • Drew Brees: Capricorn (Jan. 15), GF (and dairy- and nut-allergic too; if press releases can be believed, he loves So Delicious)
  • Ellen DeGeneres: Aquarius (Jan. 26), not GF (and rather annoyingly put down Gluten-Free Singles on her show in November)

Hope no one minded the double feature! (I’d never get away with it for Leo.) Next month is Pisces, the last in the rotation—hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am.

Capricorns and Aquariuses (Aquarii?), duke it out in the comments, and if you liked the post, please share.

As always, the “information,” such as it is, in this post has been largely ripped off from The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk, which is in fact the only astrology book you’ll ever need (need here being a relative term). Celeb photos from Wikimedia Commons.

See also: AriesTaurusGeminiCancerLeoVirgoLibra, Scorpio, Sagittarius

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Are Food Allergies the New Eating Disorders? Cosmo tells all.

Yesterday, I bought my first (and quite possibly last) copy of Cosmopolitan ever. The February 2014 issue boasts a flashy pink cover, “85 ways to get your dream hair,” and a 4-step “bikini body plan.” Good stuff.

But what really interested me was this:

I’d heard about the article the night before (thanks to Anna Luke, @Gfreegimme3), and I opened to page 182 ready to hate it. 

I wasn’t totally disappointed.

The piece, by freelance health writer Jessica Girdwain, makes the case that some people use allergies as an excuse to eat less, and so control their weight. It urges readers to determine whether they’re truly allergic or intolerant to a food, or in fact struggling with disordered eating.

[Edit: You can now read the entire story online here, so you don’t have to spend the four bucks. No, I don’t know why it’s categorized under “Party Ideas & Tips.”]

The story bugs me in several ways. It:

  1. Features a truly repulsive visual of a lipsticked, nail-painted hottie sensuously devouring what looks like an entire naked pizza crust. It also prints the phrase “eating disorders” in the title with a backwards S and a couple misaligned letters. Like, get it? It’s disordered. Cute!
  2. Muddies the waters about celiac disease: Girdwain calls celiac “an extreme form of gluten intolerance,” then states that “with an intolerance, you may be able to eat dairy, gluten, sugar, or eggs in limited amounts . . . And you may be able to reintroduce the food into your diet in the future.”
        Girdwain and her editors might know that people with celiac can’t eat even small amounts of gluten ever again, but Cosmo’s 78 million readers worldwide may not. The way this article is worded, they still won’t.
        Note: The world’s leading experts on celiac disease now agree that the umbrella term gluten intolerance “carries inherent weaknesses and contradictions” and should be ditched in favor of gluten-related disorders. So let’s start. (I’ll abbreviate it to GRDs for the rest of this post.)
  3. Completely ignores the existence of male eating disorders. Then again, it is a women’s magazine. In its pages, men are merely gods who demand satisfaction by the ritual sacrifice of female dignity.
  4. Appears opposite an ad for Hydroxycut: Really, Cosmo? You’re going to lecture us to avoid restrictive diets, then sell us a weight loss supplement? That’s . . . well, that’s exactly what I’d expect.

Still, the article gets some things right. Girdwain recognizes that food allergies and intolerances are real and are serious. Her primary example is a woman who gets her doctor’s approval to go gluten-free, then spirals into orthorexia (an unhealthy obsession with eating only “healthy” foods).

It’s a realistic story, but the argument it illustrates is guaranteed to get eyerolls from the food allergy and gluten-free community. Many of us struggle to have our needs taken seriously, precisely because we’re perceived as fad dieters or disordered eaters.

There is a connection, though.

Looking into it, I found there are many links between eating disorders and food allergies, intolerances, and GRDs. For example:

  • Celiac disease can be misdiagnosed as an eating disorder.
  • Made-up or perceived allergies can mask or exacerbate an eating disorder.
  • A person with celiac disease can develop an eating disorder.
  • A person with an eating disorder can develop food intolerances.

About 1% of the population has celiac disease, and up to 1 in 13 kids has one or more food allergy. Similarly, data from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) suggests that about 8% of Americans have an eating disorder. With so many people affected by these conditions, there’s bound to be some crossover.

But there’s more than just coincidental crossover.

Run a Google Scholar search on, say, “celiac disease and anorexia,” and you’ll find that the two often go hand in hand. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center even includes the disorder on its list of celiac disease symptoms.

The association may be because:

  • Sticking to “food rules” or diets can lead to obsessing over food, restricting intake, and/or binge eating.
  • Associating food with suffering can encourage eating less.
  • Social and familial issues related to health issues can spur an eating disorder.

If you think about it, a gluten-free (or dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and so on) diet is disordered eating. It’s highly restrictive; it encourages religious avoidance of minute quantities of certain foods; it brings fear and anxiety to the dinner table; it drives a wedge between you and those with whom you dine. Sure, for us, it’s the healthiest option, but that doesn’t make it entirely healthy.

Someone already “on the spectrum” of restricting and binging could easily slip, once allergies and GRDs (real or fictional) get involved. And (according to the ANAD) 7 to 9% of people who go on any kind of diet eventually develop a partial or full-blown eating disorder. Small wonder, then, that embarking on an ultra-restrictive diet for health reasons might point people down that path.

Getting personal . . .

In my experience, disordered eating and celiac disease are intimately linked. Though I don’t have an eating disorder (and don’t want to co-opt the term), I’ve got my own share of food issues. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease myself, one of my first and nastiest thoughts was, “Yes! A new, valid excuse to refuse food when it’s offered to me. Maybe I’ll lose weight!”

Sure, I didn’t actually need to lose weight, I knew that more people who go gluten-free gain weight than lose it, and I had more important things to think about—like my health, and what to do about my kitchen. But still, I thought it.

I wrote about this more when the topic came up at Gluten Dude almost a year ago (the firebombs thing was a joke), and I’m sure I’ll write about it again. For now, I’ll conclude, with some surprise, that . . .

I agree. With Cosmo. Do you?

Some women (and men) do rely on excuses to avoid food, consciously or unconsciously; and the actual rise in food allergies and GRDs lends the “fakers” more credence. And people with legitimate reasons to avoid foods sometimes take it too far.

Cosmopolitan February 2014 issue

Oh, Cosmo.

To be honest, I find it refreshing that a magazine like Cosmo would include an article warning against restricting foods to lose weight. Of course, the very next spread is an “I Dream of Bikini” workout, and the women pictured in the issue are the very Photoshopped, personally trained waifs we’re all killing ourselves to imitate. But what’s a little hypocrisy among friends?

The article, with all its flaws, spotlights a real issue, albeit an uncomfortable one. I’m interested to see how others in the community respond, and I’d especially love to hear YOUR thoughts.

Have you read the article? What did you think? Do you have thoughts or personal experience you’re comfortable sharing about the GRD/allergy and eating disorder connection, or the blurry lines between them?

Sources (I accessed the full texts through my alumni network, so you may just have to trust me):Anorexia Nervosa and Celiac Disease: Two Case Reports,” “Eating disorders and celiac disease: a case report,” “Coeliac disease and eating disorders – forgotten comorbidities?

Other reading on this topic: “Eating Disorder or Celiac Disease?…Or Both?” on About.com, Carrots and (Candy) Stick‘s response to the Cosmo articleLiving Without‘s 2012 article, “Celiac Disease and Eating Disorders”

Thanks for reading! If you stuck through to the end, double thanks! When me and my dream hair and bikini bod are lounging on the beach this summer, I’ll think of you.

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